Ras Nungwi is found on a beautiful stretch of beach...
Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel: Our full report
At the very northern tip of Zanzibar, Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel sits on a beautiful stretch of white-sand coastline. It’s a popular, high-quality hotel which has resort-style facilities – including internet access, large swimming pool, watersports centre and games area.
Ras Nungwi has 32 rooms and chalets standing in well-kept gardens. There are four different types, depending on their location, view, level of privacy and finishing touches. Inside, all rooms are similar in style, and all have air conditioning, fans, tea and coffee facilities, electronic safes and hairdryers. They also each a lovely large Zanzibari bed draped with a mosquito net, an en-suite bathroom and a veranda.
- The 13 Lodge rooms are situated in one long row furthest away from the beach, in a neat garden behind the main area and car park. Slightly smaller than the other rooms at Ras Nungwi, they are set in a long, white-washed stone terrace. Though they are slightly lacking in privacy, each has a small veranda away from the main areas. It is a little quieter here than nearer to the beach.
All the ‘lodge’ rooms have en-suite flush toilets and hot-and-cold showers – with plenty of hot water – as well as mosquito nets, tea and coffee facilities, hairdryers and a well-stocked minibar. They’ve been refurbished recently so feel very modern and clean – if slightly small.
- 14 Superior chalets stand in Ras Nungwi’s gardens, each closer to the beach with its own small private veranda and sea views. Configurated in pairs, each is effectively half of a large thatched rondavel of white-washed stone. Inside each of the ‘superior’ chalets are light-coloured soft-furnishings, walls and tiles – resulting in a cool and bright ambience. You can open the slatted glass windows to let in the natural sea breeze, or close them and enjoy full air conditioning. Every room is equipped with a wardrobe and a writing desk. Bathrooms are similar to those in the ‘lodge’ rooms.
- Four Superior Deluxe chalets are very similar to the ‘superior’ chalets, but are closer again to the sea, with the white-sand beach just a stone’s throw away. However, the main beach areas are relatively small and during the day can get quite busy, so these chalets are not as quiet or private as you might expect at a quieter beach retreat. On the plus side, these ‘superior deluxe’ chalets have the added advantage of an iPod station, minibar, three-pin plug sockets, deluxe toiletries, and a fruit basket on arrival. The bathrooms, all with en-suite flush toilet and hot-and-cold showers, are clean and well-kept, but a little cramped in comparison to the bedrooms.
Although the ‘superior deluxe’ chalets are very comfortable and have everything you might expect from a hotel, we found them a little bland and lacking in atmosphere – a shame considering that Ras Nungwi is on an island with such a rich and varied culture.
- Ras Nungwi’s most luxurious option is the fantastic (though fantastically priced!) Ocean Suite, which offers 200m2 of living space. As well as all the mod cons of the ‘superior deluxe’ chalets, the suite has its own private sundeck and plunge pool, and a DVD player (but no TV). It is set a little away from the other rooms and main areas, making it much more secluded and quiet. Guests here may opt to have dinner in their suite or, for a more sociable evening, can head to the main restaurant.
The lounge/dining area at Ras Nungwi is an extensive, split-level thatched structure with a tiled floor covered in large rugs. There are numerous comfortable sofas around the lounge and a bar area dotted with bright Zanzibari cushions – a pleasant spot to escape from the heat of the day. Wireless internet access is available in the central communal areas, and there’s a small computer room with a computer for guests’ use. There is also a shop selling a range of curios and toiletries.
The adjoining dining area is furnished with plenty of tables with white directors’ chairs. Chilled music is played during the day and when we last stayed, there was live music playing during dinner, which added a sense of fun to the atmosphere.
Just below this sits a fresh-water swimming pool, with paths leading down to the beach below. There are lots of very comfortable sunloungers with free towels, and plenty of shade, although at busy times, and especially in school holidays, the pool can get a little noisy and hectic.
For more peace and quiet, follow the path through the green gardens to the beautiful beach, where you can snorkel at high tide. A beach bar serving cocktails and lunch is open until 6.00pm.
Activities at Ras Nungwi include a variety of watersports arranged through their excellent dive centre, which offers two dives a day to Mnemba Island and the surrounding sites. For big-game fishing enthusiasts, Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel is a great option. The hotel has three big-game fishing boats, along with professional tackle, and adheres to international safety standards. ‘Tag-and-release’ fishing is generally encouraged, unless it’s a record-breaking fish or fisherman’s first-ever catch.
The games area at Ras Nungwi is very popular with younger visitors, especially after dinner, and boasts a pool table, table tennis, board games and darts. There’s also a flood-lit tennis court (with racquets and balls available free of charge).
Our viewRas Nungwi is a good option for those who want a larger lodge with plenty of activity and buzz to it. It’s not overly luxurious, but it offers really good facilities and value for money.
Ideal length of stay: Most guests stay at Ras Nungwi for five nights.
Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, then it’s a further one-and-a half-hour transfer by road to Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: When we last stayed at Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel in September 2011, the food was very good.
Breakfast, from 7.30 to 10.00am, was a high-quality self-service buffet with something for everyone. Options included fruit, cereals, juices, freshly baked breads and a cooked breakfast with eggs of your choice served at the omelette station.
Most guests at Ras Nungwi stay on a half-board basis, so lunch is an à la carte menu with a mix of international cuisine and daily specials. Examples include tomato, mozzarella and basil pesto salad, tuna burgers and seafood tapas. The main menu is served from 12.00 to 2.00pm, with a smaller menu available until 6.00pm. Lunch can be eaten down at the beach bar if preferred.
Dinner, served 8.00–9.30pm, is usually a slightly more formal occasion, with four courses, though sometimes there is a delicious buffet that serves a variety of barbecued meat and fish with fresh salads and vegetables. There is also a varied and extensive wine list.
On a recent visit we enjoyed prawns to start, then courgette and mint soup, followed by a main course of lamb or fish, and finally fruit salad.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10
Drinks included: Drinks are not included.
Family holidays: The good-value, high-quality hotel Ras Nungwi offers a lovely white-sand beach, large swimming pool, watersports centre and a games room, plus cots and high chairs, to families on beach holidays in Zanzibar. There are no age restrictions here.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zanzibar
Beach holidays: With white sand and turquoise waters, Ras Nungwi is a compact, well-run beach lodge. It has a notably good swimming pool, excellent facilitates and a lively, but not intrusive, atmosphere that is particularly well-suited to families with older children.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Zanzibar
Diving & snorkelling: Ras Nungwi has a large, well-equipped dive school on site with four qualified dive instructors. They organise twice daily dives on nearby sites for qualified divers; and if you stay here a few days you can join a dive boat going out to Mnemba Island.See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Zanzibar
Attitude towards children: Ras Nungwi happily accepts families and children.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Ras Nungwi.
Special activities & services: Ras Nungwi does not organize special activities for children.
Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: This is a good hotel for children, with a large pool, lovely beach and a fun games area with a table-tennis table. However, full responsibility for children remains with their parents whilst at Ras Nungwi.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is cellphone coverage at Ras Nungwi. There is also internet access which costs US$6 per hour. WiFi is available in the public areas.
TV & radio: There are iPod stations in the Superior Deluxe chalets and the Ocean Suite. The Ocean Suite also has a DVD player (but no TV).
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The dive team are all first aid trained and there is a first-aid kit on site for minor injuries and illnesses. For more serious incidents, guests would be taken to Zanzibar Stone Town, an hour-and-a-half’s drive away.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel has a front gate which is normally closed and watched, security guards around the property, and a few discreet askaris (guards) on the beach.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the bedrooms and communal areas at Ras Nungwi, as well as fire alarms in the main areas. In addition, the management team has a safety system in place for checking all of the rooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Extra charge – approximately US$1–3 per item.
Money: Ras Nungwi will exchange currency and travellers’ cheques.
Accepted payment on location: Ras Nungwi accepts cash payment in US dollars, euros, Tanzanian shillings and pounds sterling, as well as MasterCard and Visa credit cards, and travellers’ cheques.